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Testing gasoline-soaked electronics

BillmaanBillmaan Registered User regular
edited June 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
Let me start with a bit of background:
A few days ago I was coming back to school from the airport, and we crossed paths with a tornado. The van I was riding in rolled side-over-side a few times, and in the process, the fuel lines were cut. We ended up upside-down and practically swimming in gasoline. (Thankfully, there were no major injuries.) I was rushed away from the van and had to leave my luggage behind. It's likely that everything in my luggage was soaked in gasoline (the stuff was everywhere) and I need some advice on salvaging the contents.

In particular, my luggage contained a laptop and a Wii. I'm getting them back tomorrow. Before I try to test them out, are there any special precautions I should take to minimize risk to the electronics and to myself? (I don't want to plug my laptop in and have the battery explode, for example.) If it turns out that the laptop is hosed, is there anything special I should do to help preserve the hard drive?

Billmaan on

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    Lord YodLord Yod Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Gasoline will evaporate, eventually, in regular room temperature. I don't know if it would do anything to the electronics (it is a fantastic solvent) so that could definitely have an impact. You obviously don't want to power anything on if it is soaked with gasoline.

    If it were my gear I would probably let it sit for a while, like a week, in a well-ventilated area. Blow it out occasionally with a can of compressed air, and make sure you can't smell anything, then give it a shot.

    Just in case you missed it or some idiot is reading this, applying sparks to gasoline vapors will result in an explosion, so it is really a lot better to be safe than sorry in this case, and you may want to call a professional.

    Lord Yod on
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    PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited June 2008
    Yeah, waiting at least a week with the casings wide open is a good bet, but there's a phenomenally good chance that the PCBs are completely and totally fucked.

    Pheezer on
    IT'S GOT ME REACHING IN MY POCKET IT'S GOT ME FORKING OVER CASH
    CUZ THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE AND IT'S GIVING ME A RASH
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    BillmaanBillmaan Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Thanks for the advice guys.

    After getting a chance to inspect the laptop, I've decided there's virtually no chance it'll work. Instead of risking injury/fire/what-have-you, I'm just going to save the hard drive, get rid of everything else, and be glad that I still have my data (...assuming the drive still works). It was about time for a new laptop anyway.

    The Wii, however, was virtually untouched and works fine.

    Billmaan on
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    DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited June 2008
    Did you have it insured? Renter's/Homeowner's insurance might actually cover this.

    Doc on
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    BillmaanBillmaan Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Doc wrote: »
    Did you have it insured? Renter's/Homeowner's insurance might actually cover this.
    Unfortunately, no.

    Billmaan on
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    wmelonwmelon Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    When gasoline evaporates it leaves behind varnish. This may cause your electronics to not work. I've never tested it for conductivity.

    wmelon on
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    HeirHeir Ausitn, TXRegistered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Won't gasoline eat through some of the more delicate parts of a computer's innards?

    Heir on
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    PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited June 2008
    Yeah, the PC is likely completely fucked. The hard drive is enough of a sealed enclosure that it should be fine unless it was soaking in it.

    Pheezer on
    IT'S GOT ME REACHING IN MY POCKET IT'S GOT ME FORKING OVER CASH
    CUZ THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE AND IT'S GIVING ME A RASH
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    DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited June 2008
    Pheezer wrote: »
    Yeah, the PC is likely completely fucked. The hard drive is enough of a sealed enclosure that it should be fine unless it was soaking in it.

    Just about every hard drive has a PCB that's not enclosed, though. It's a toss-up.

    Doc on
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    SushisourceSushisource Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Doc wrote: »
    Pheezer wrote: »
    Yeah, the PC is likely completely fucked. The hard drive is enough of a sealed enclosure that it should be fine unless it was soaking in it.

    Just about every hard drive has a PCB that's not enclosed, though. It's a toss-up.

    Yeah... say goodbye to your input connectors

    Sushisource on
    Some drugee on Kavinsky's 1986
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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    If the files are important then a data recovery firm probably wouldn't have too many problems (i.e. charge a fuckload) to yank the files for you if there's no damage to platters.

    electricitylikesme on
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    DeShadowCDeShadowC Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Since you were in a vehicle the car insurance might cover it.

    DeShadowC on
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    FoomyFoomy Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    if the gas hasn't already eaten away at the pcb's. than you could try opening them up washing the boards with some clean water (make sure any batteries are removed first) than use a can of air or a vacumm to blow/suck away as much of the water as you can, than stick them in tub of dry rice for a day or 2 to soak up any remaining moisture. than reassemble and try turning it on, if your lucky they may still work.

    Foomy on
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